The idea of the experiment was to project myself forward in time, by a small but easily measurable amount: One single second.
I synched my personal timer with the master control clock and stepped into a Quantum state isolation chamber (Qsic) that was designed especially for this investigation. On the exterior of the Qsic containment shell was a third timer, which I had also pre-synched with the master clock. By opening a small window in my cramped cabin, I could view the time recorded there – without leaving the ‘vehicle’. This was necessary for two reasons: safety, of course; and to maintain the integrity of the quantum continuum initiated by the Qsic, which (as anyone from the future can tell you) is the only way to return to your space/time departure frame once you leave it. (Of course, you never really leave it unless you disrupt the quantum continuum by powering down or opening the hatch. And you won’t want to do that, unless you’re not planning to come back.)
A series of tiny windows (1 cm in diameter) are strategically positioned around the craft in order to optimise outside viewing upon ‘arrival’ at the destination frame. The mini-windows are precisely-ground polycarbonate lenses. Since it’s impossible to see through these dim, obtusely-focused portals with the human eye, CCD cameras are interfaced in a holographically-compatible array which provides excellent views of one’s future surroundings – but only though a 2D display monitor or virtual reality helmet.
So, I depressed the GO switch and it immediately popped up again, meaning one of two things: a) the circuit failed; or, b) the experiment was complete. All lights indicated System OK, so I flipped open the external timer window. Something strange there. I snapped it shut and then flipped it open again. Same result. And then I simply flipped.
Nine hundred and fifty years! It took me a few minutes to figure that out because the readout was hard calibrated only in seconds and miniscule fractions thereof. But nine hundred and fifty years! I was supposed to lose only one second – not the lifespan of Noah!
Apparently, one second at light-speed nets you one light-second of time travel; or, just under 30 billion seconds of geo-temporal fast forward at a ratio of one second to one centimetre.
I didn’t even bother to check the cameras to see what, if anything, was out there. I was more excited about building new theoretical models that would conform to what I had just learned. I hit the Safe Return button instinctively and it responded by popping immediately back out. All systems were running trim and error-free. I was home.
As the Qsic powered down, I checked my outside environment indicators (you want to try and avoid Morlocks at any cost, I think ~ [thx HG]) and stepped back into my lab. Once the communications harnesses were securely coupled to the hull access port, I started the Qsic’s digital debriefing and diagnostics (QD3) suite. Everything registered right down the middle. The experiment was an unqualified success.
But for the lame assumption I made in configuring my timecalc subroutines, I could find nothing out of the ordinary. Best of all, especially for me, the Qsic’s Safe Return system executed a flawless, automatic clawback from nearly a thousand years out!
Yeah, I’d say it was a good day.
The following morning, I noticed an anomaly in one of the image pattern buffers. It was full. They should all have been nearly empty. After all, I’d only visited the future for about three minutes. All but one of the thirty-six buffers checked out fine. Number 17 appeared to be holding about four hours of video.
.So I watched it.
Like I said earlier, the people of the future aren’t too crazy about us right now… er, right then? Nope, I was correct the first time. Right now. (It’s always now.)
Anyway, what I’ve got is one hour each of Oprah, Springer, Donahue and Griffin – complete with commercials. And a three minute segment of what appears to be a little girl, perhaps five or six years old, telling me off, in no uncertain terms, about our environmental mismanagement; our “lack of basic values and the virtue to apply them,” (she scolded); domestic violence; community violence; inter-community violence; and, of course, War. According to her, we were/are nothing short of “monstrous”.
It seems that when they rediscovered our “lost” civilisation, all they could find or successfully recover were television shows and some well-preserved DNA. The exact locations of the biological samples had been stored in a database that they were able to parse.
They apparently found nothing to redeem us in the millions of hours of television they resurrected. And worse, when they cloned a few dozen of us, all hell broke loose within twenty years. Their well-organised society nearly suffered a catastrophic collapse, partly owing to the fact that the DNA they found belonged to a group of violent, recidivist sex-offenders that were part of a gene therapy research program.
“Please… JUST STAY HOME!” she glowered into the camera, as the screen faded to black.